If you’re, shall we say, vertically challenged, everyday tasks and maybe some not-so-everyday tasks may be a bit of hassle. For life below 5-foot-3-inches, you have to be mindful of how you organize everything, from kitchen cabinets to the linen closet. Using your cooking tongs to reach a top shelf is just standard operating procedure.
To make life easier (and safer) reaching high places, a step stool can be infinitely helpful.
In true 21st-century fashion, the internet is teeming with option. So, to spare you the headache of an exhaustive search, we spent a day conducting our own thorough assessments and found the Honey-Can-Do folding step stool(available at Amazon) is the best among the 15 we tested. It's lightweight, slip-resistant, easy to store, and easy to carry, courtesy of the integrated handle. And while it may look a bit pedestrian, it gets the job done with relatively little fuss.
If you’re looking for a step stool with a bit more lift, the HBTower (available at Amazon), our best 3-step stool may be a better option if you need to reach the top shelf of your kitchen cabinet, change out a light bulb, or hang a curtain rod.
These are the best step stools we tested, ranked in order:
Honey-Can-Do TBL-02977 Folding Step Stool
Rubbermaid RMA-2-Com 2-step
Cosco Two-Step Big Step Folding Step Stool with Rubber Hand Grip
Cosco 2-Step All Steel Step Stool
HBTower 3-step Ladder
AmeriHome 2-step Steel Folding Mini Ladder
Kikkerland Assorted Step Stool
Great Value Plastic Folding Single Step Stool
Polder Chrome Slim Folding Step Stool
Duro-Med Industries Step Stool with Handle
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This foldable step stool by Honey-Can-Do makes our list as the best step stool overall. It checks off a lot of boxes for most; it’s lightweight, and it collapses or folds for exceptionally easy storage. What’s more, it’s tall enough to help you reach the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet, items stored on top of your fridge, or whatever else you need to check off on your to-do list.
This folding step stool features an anti-slip surface and skid-resistant feet, so this might be a great pick for the littles who aren’t always as cautious as you’d like them to be. And, as a nice bonus, it’s made of solid plastic, so it’s durable and exceptionally easy to clean.
Throughout the testing phase, I noted that this step stool is quite stable; there’s no shakiness to speak of. This stool opens and closes easily, and while it weighs a mere 3.6 pounds, it has a 300-pound weight capacity.
This step stool is pretty compact as well. It folds down to 1.75”, so it’s easy to store when not in use. Considering how compact it is, this step stool would be great for any room in the house, not to mention ideal for small quarters where space is at a premium like apartments, dorms, and even RV’s.
It’s worth noting that there are plenty of step stools out there with a similar design. And, while those average somewhere around a 7-inch to 9-inch lift, this step stool has a steeper step, at 13 inches. Plus, the width of the step is 12 inches, so an average size foot (mine is a women’s size 8.5) fits comfortably with minimal adjustments.
While it’s probably not going to be a furniture piece that’s a part of your décor, it’s also worth mentioning that this step stool has a contemporary design, with neutral black and gray coloration, so not an eyesore either.
The one con to speak of may be the higher price point, which, at more than $30, seems a little steep for a plastic stool.
I was a bit surprised how well the HB Tower step stool stacked up among its competitors. When it arrived, my impression was that it was clunky and wide. But as the testing phase progressed, this one proved to be rather utilitarian.
One of the best selling points for this step stool is the extra-wide pedals. The widest step on this step stool is generously sized at 14.2 inches, and those with an average-sized foot won’t feel like they’re teetering when stepping up. The wide pedals also have a non-slip rubber grip that offers heel-to-toe foot support. Honestly, I was able to climb up and down with nary the thought of feeling unstable or uneasy.
With the highest step coming in at 28 inches from the floor, this step stool provides ample lift for getting into hard-to-reach spaces, and it will likely offer a good assist to see your household projects through to completion.
This step stool is equipped with a metal buckle that automatically locks into place once you step onto the stool, it has rubber feet that fully contact the floor, keeping you firmly in place, and as an added benefit, they won’t mar your floors.
The HB Tower three-step stool also has a non-slip rubber handgrip, which makes the stool easy to climb and easy to carry—and that brings us to our next point.
This step stool features a steel frame construction, so not only is it the heaviest step stool out of our top picks, weighing in at 12.3 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest we tested. And, while it’s not incredibly difficult to carry this step stool around the house and up a flight of stairs, it’s still a little cumbersome. No doubt, the steel frame construction is a major factor in its 500-pound load capacity.
Crafted from aluminum, the Rubbermaid RMA-2-Com step stool is durable yet lightweight. At 5.9 pounds, not only is it great when you need to grab the casserole dish from the top shelf, but it’s also pretty easy to tote around the house and carry up the stairs. Additionally, this step ladder has a slim profile (it folds down to 2.5 inches) for easy storage when not in use.
You’ll also find that this step stool is task-oriented, so to speak. Perfect for any DIY or household project, it features a locking, oversized platform top with a built-in space to store tools, hardware, or any other supplies, and it also has a handy flip hook feature, where you can hang buckets of paint or cleaning solution. Additionally, the 19-inch elevation will certainly get you into the far reaches, and it has a 225-pound weight capacity.
It’s important to mention here that while the top step is wide, the lower rung is quite narrow. Far too narrow, in fact, to feel comfy on the climb. That said, the non-slip feet are generously sized to keep the step stool in place, and they won’t mar your floors if you drag the step stool around.
We tested step stools because there are many of us out in the world who just can't reach stuff—including a booming aging in place population.
Hello! My name is Sharon Brandwein, and I am vertically challenged. Standing at only 5-feet, 1 inch, it seems like everything is taller than me, including my kids. In fact, when my husband and I got married about 16 years ago, one of his first gifts to me from his favorite store (Home Depot) was — you guessed it, a step ladder. And, while that thing has been with us for all this time, I too came up with clever ways to get the things I need from tall shelves. I really thought the tongs were quite a clever idea, but truth be told, it can get a little dicey when retrieving heavier items and or things made of glass. Thankfully, I have no scars to prove this theory, but I’m sure it was only just a matter of time.
Overall, I tested 15 step stools and evaluated each one through a series of subjective and objective questions. To answer the objective questions, I looked at things like the weight of the step stool and whether it required assembly. One of the more important assessments in this category was whether or not my foot fit squarely on the step.
The subjective questions for this assessment focused on things like usability, practicality, and convenience or ease of use. For this round, I was required to perform a series of tasks (repeated with each step stool) and subsequently answer a series of questions, including whether or not I could reach a serving bowl and vase on top of a refrigerator, whether I could easily carry the stool up and down a set of stairs, and whether or not the stool is easy to store in a closet or pantry.
This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but you get the idea. At the end of the day, we aimed to show readers how each step ladder would perform under similar circumstances with everyday tasks in any home.
What You Should Know About Buying a Step Stool
With as many options as there are on the market, choosing the right one can feel a bit overwhelming. When buying a step stool, the most important factors to consider are weight, stability, and height.
When you’re doing chores around the house like dusting ceiling fans, changing light bulbs, and the like, the height of your step stool matters. So, when you’re shopping for one, it’s important to consider what you need your step ladder to help you do.
In addition to the height of the stool, it’s probably a good idea to consider the weight of the step stool, which has plenty of implications for its ease of use. Will your step stool remain close to the spot where you’re likely to use it most, or will it live in one spot of your home and be carried up and down the stairs and over to various locations when needed?
While the stability of a step stool is important, it’s not really something you can assess unless you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. If you’re shopping online, however, customer reviews and guides like this can be infinitely helpful.
Other Step Stools We Tested
Cosco 2-step Big Step Folding Step Stool with Rubber Hand Grip
This step stool is worth an honorable mention, as it is the second best 2-step stool we tested. While it reaches a little higher and features wider steps throughout compared to the Rubbermaid, the Rubbermaid just felt a bit more sturdy on the climb. This one is also a tad heavier, and when going up and down a flight of stairs, those 2.9 pounds make a difference. These two-step stools run neck and neck in terms of price, but a lighter step stool will always have an edge in terms of convenience and ease of use.
While this step stool features an all-steel frame, it’s still pretty light—5.9 pounds, to be exact. The lift on this step stool is 16 inches, and while one 12-inch step was wide enough to feel safe on the climb, the lower rung was just too narrow to get up without a wobble. I felt the need to steady myself, and didn’t feel completely confident as I descended with a glass vase in my hand.
The Amerihome 2-step steel folding mini ladder has a decent lift of 17 inches, and it will get you where you need to be. When folded down, this step stool is only 1 inch wide, so it’s compact enough for easy storage. The steps are wide enough, and they also have rubber treads, so when climbing up or descending this step stool with an item on tow, I felt relatively safe. While this step stool performed relatively well on the assessment, it lost some points for its weight and construction. It has a steel frame that, although durable, just adds too much weight, which can and will be annoying when you’re toting this one around the house.
While this step stool performs much like our Best Overall winner, the Honey-Can-Do, (it has a generously sized platform and folds down compactly for easy storage), the height is where it leaves a little to be desired. With an 8-inch elevation, it’s just a tiny bit better than standing on your tippy-toes, so in a sense, there’s relatively little value.
The Great Value plastic folding step stool has a generous width at 11 inches, so it will easily accommodate an average-sized foot, and the step stool folds down beautifully flat for easy storage. However, it has one crucial shortfall with only an 8.5-inch lift, so it offers only a slight advantage to standing on your tippy-toes.
While the Polder Chrome Slim Folding Step Stool offers a nice vertical lift at 17 inches and its steps offer ample room for your foot, we found two critical issues. First, it tends to slip just a bit when you step onto it. Second, the release latch that returns it to a folded position can be a bit tricky to operate. Handling it for a short period of time during this test wasn’t terrible, but I can certainly see this getting increasingly annoying over time.
Overall, the Duro-Med Industries step stool is pretty robust. It features a comfort-grip handle, a slip-resistant surface, and rubberized feet. As far as feeling comfortable on the climb, it really delivers. Our issue with this step stool lies in the lift and assembly. With only a 9 inch lift, it won’t get you very far, and assembly was a little more than I think most people would bargain for. It turned out to be a two-person job, so if you’re living alone or you have dexterity issues, putting this one together could be a problem.
Sharon Brandwein is a writer specializing in parenting, commerce, and content marketing. Her work has also appeared on Bustle, Elite Daily, ABCNews, Motherly, and Parents. When she’s not busy curating a wardrobe for her puppy, you can find her writing about motherhood and documenting her life as a writer at After The Byline.
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